Last week’s budget has been touted as the “back to work” budget.  One of chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s key aims was to encourage “economically inactive” adults to return to the workplace.  While much of the detail is still to be confirmed, we take a look at some of the measures that may impact small businesses.

Apprenticeships for over 50s

Dubbed “Returnerships”, a new apprenticeship scheme is to be launched for over 50s.  While the structure and funding model is yet to be announced, this could enable SMEs to benefit from a wealth of experience from older workers.  What remains to be seen is how this will link to minimum wage and whether the over 50s will be prepared to retrain at a low level of pay.

Reduced childcare costs

Following much lobbying by various groups, the chancellor has announced greater free childcare provision for working parents.  This should make it more financially viable for parents (in particular mothers) to return to the workplace and provide a greater pool of talent at a time when recruitment is particularly challenging.  However, the measures will not take effect until April 2024, when 15 hours of free childcare will be available for parents of 2-year-olds and then in September 2024, when this will be extended to children aged 9 months and over.

Occupational health

Consultation is to start on how occupational health advice can be provided more quickly and what funding can be provided to employers to support this.  This should be helpful to employers in getting people back to work and also understanding how they can support employees.  However, it will bring greater focus onto employers making adjustments to facilitate a return to work.

Universal support for the disabled

Funding will be provided to support up to 50,000 people with disabilities or long-term health problems to return to the workplace.  This is good news for employers as it opens up a pool of talent that would otherwise be unavailable.  However, it will require employees to give careful thought to reasonable adjustments, such as providing special equipment or allowing home-working.


We will continue to update you on all developments but for further advice and information, please contact us on 01484 841776 or email [email protected]